WiebeTech Drives and Docks

Firewire Drive Docks & MICRO GB+ Pocket Hard Drive
OS X Compatible

Company: WiebeTech

WiebeTech has been busy since our first review of their highly rated products. With these two new FireWire drive docks (Super DriveDock and Forensic DriveDock), WiebeTech enters the uncharted territory of totally new categories of storage and data transfer hardware. Sounds scary, right? Not a bit! This is very friendly equipment, and deserves our scrutiny and admiration, as does their shiny, swift High Speed Micro GB+ pocket hard drive.

First things first, comfortable before unusual. MICRO GB+ is a slim, sleek portable disk drive case that can be purchased either empty for $99.95, or loaded with up to 60 GB of storage capacity. Screwdriver and screws are supplied for the homebrew and gearhead crowd. Our $199.95 evaluation unit arrived with a 20GB notebook 9.5mm drive pre-installed.

On the rear of its case are two FireWire interfaces for daisy-chaining, with help from an optional external power supply. Bus-powered usage is effortless, once you turn on the power switch. Nice touches! Product ships with a shortie FireWire cable and an attractive carrying case.

Nemo and Weeks were impressed with this ingenious drive, and you will be too. Do NOT DROP it, though, because it is still a delicate piece of machinery, in spite of its rugged construction. Small and affordable, fast and versatile, rated at: 5 out of 5 MacMice.

PS: According to James Wiebe, “Our testing shows it to be the fastest FireWire portable drive on the market.”

WiebeTech’s Super DriveDock ($159.95 US) is one of the strangest, most inventive products we have ever encountered. A small hunk of metal with a few holes and wires sticking out, SDD serves as a FireWire link between a bare, exposed 3.5 inch IDE hard drive and your computer.

Weeks and Nemo screwed the included metal plate and stuck the included rubber bumpers onto a working Western Digital 40GB drive that had resided in Weeks’ dual-processor G4 tower until last month. We attached the built-in 40-pin IDE connector from SDD to Western Digital, then inserted the white, four-pin Molex power connector into the hard drive. Plugging a FireWire cable from G3 iMac to Super DriveDock powered and mounted the external drive immediately.

Comments and questions:

  • We were advised to make sure the drive’s jumpers were set to master and not slave, but not given any instructions how to do the determination. What happens if they are set to slave? Are there any URLs to help us here?James Wiebe tells MyMac.com: “If set to slave, the drive won’t be recognized … nothing will happen. Most drives have little pictures of the jumper settings somewhere on the drive.”
  • the large IDE connector fits easily into our drive, but we didn’t see any polarization pin, which was mentioned on the instruction sheet. Please BE CAREFUL when inserting this 40-pin connector, because one false move and your drive is finished. Should the WiebeTech connector be a bit longer, to fill more space with less potential for error during insertion?
  • No mention of the white Molex 4-pin power connector was in the instructions. Do NOT insert this plug in as far as you can, or you will never be able to remove it. Snug connection is all that is required.
  • Super DriveDock does not boot the attached hard drive into OS X on Nemo’s legacy G3 iMac 400MHz machine, but it works instantly on Weeks’ new G4 TiBook. OS 9 startup is effortless on both computers. Why the discrepancy with OS X?James Wiebe advises that Nemo “might need a ROM update; Apple maintains a page with the info. Go to Apple’s website, then click on SUPPORT, then search on “firewire booting”. This procedure is beyond the scope of our review, so to expedite publication, let’s hold that thought until future consideration.

    Questions and concerns notwithstanding, WiebeTech’s Super DriveDock is a wonderful bridging component that will be in constant use here at MyMac.com’s reviewer tech central headquarters. Nemo has it running at this very moment, double-checking its details while writing the review.

    It’s one of those gadgets where you know if you need it, because you always wished it existed, and if you still don’t have a clue what we mean it’s probably not for you at this time. For people in the know, consider Super DriveDock worthy of our highest recommendation, at 5 out of 5 MacMice.

    Forensic Drive Dock ($249.95) is a one-of-a-kind contraption: a write-blocked FireWire bridge between computer and external drive. Data is absolutely secure on the source disk, which is critical in an evidence protection situation.

    Wiebe clarifies: “Forensic DriveDock is aimed at a very small marketplace. The leader in the market (Guidance Software) charges $2500 for their software package, so this product is probably underpriced.”

    Unlike Super DriveDock, Forensic DriveDock needs AC power to operate, via a special two-cable line and a DIN-style plug that goes into the FDD. The compact unit ships with same base plate, screws, and bumpers as does SDD, with identical advice regarding master/slave drive jumpers and polarization pin.

    Installation is a non-event, truly plug-and-read-only, but remember to be careful during IDE connector insertion and removal. A tiny on/off switch gets FDD up and running, spinning and mounting instantly. Data moves only one direction, outbound from IDE drive to host computer, most valuable where protection of the hard drive is less a factor than its irreplaceable, secure data.

    If “Don’t tamper with my evidence!” is a normal part of your vocabulary, you’ll agree that WiebeTech’s Forensic DriveDock makes it a clean sweep of 5 out of 5 MacMice for all their latest products. Well done, James Wiebe and colleagues.

    John Nemerovski and David Weeks

    Nemo’s MyMac.com “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:

    Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;

    D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;

    S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;

    V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses.

    MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5

    Fantastic product! Well worth your money and investment. The best of its kind.

    John Nemerovski
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